Easter Tradition: Cascarones
This Easter introduce a fun new tradition into your family. Cascarones are a time honored way of celebrating Easter in Mexico. Hollowed out eggs are filled with confetti, sealed shut and then broken over a lucky person’s head on Easter Sunday. A colorful shower of confetti falls over the victim, bringing smiles and laughter to everyone.
This ancient tradition of filling hollowed out eggs is believed to have been introduced to Spain by Marco Polo after a trip to China where he found hollowed out egg shells that were filled with perfumed powder and given as gifts. Tossing hollowed out eggs can be traced back to Italy during the Renaissance era. Renaissance men would toss cascarones filled with perfumed powder at the women they were attracted to. Empress Carlotta brought the filled egg shells to Mexico during her husband's, Emperor Maximilian, reign. The Mexican people replaced the perfumed powder with confetti and called them cascarones; cascara meaning shell in Spanish. In Mexico, it is currently believed that having a cascaron broken over your head brings you good luck. It is also said the empty broken shell of the cascaron represents the resurrection of Christ from the tomb while the confetti spilling out represents the joy of everlasting life.
My Mexican friends had always vaguely talked about the tradition of cascarones at Easter time, but it wasn’t until my child came along that I delved into the history cascarones and the delightful fun of a new Mexican Easter tradition was born in my family. it was explained to me that in Mexico, cascarones are egg shells that have been hollowed out, dried, decorated with paint or markers and tissue paper, and filled with confetti and small toys or treats. Traditionally on Easter Sunday families would go to the park during the day, cascarones secretly stashed away in pockets and bags. The children would watch out for an unsuspecting friend to sneak up upon and try to break the cascaron over the friend’s head. Often times a game a chase would ensue with cascarones flying in the air.
How to Make Cascarones
Five years ago my family adopted the tradition of cascarones with some adaptations. About a month before Easter, whenever we use an egg, we carefully break off the top by tapping around it with a knife point to create a dime sized hole. Then we wash out the empty shell with a little dish soap and water and place it in a basket to dry. My children love coloring Easter eggs with Easter egg dye, but there never seems to be enough to make everyone happy. Therefore, we typically color our cascarones with egg dye as well. Cascarones are traditionally brightly colored, so egg dye works well for brightness. Once they are dry, we supply the children with paint supplies to reinforce the traditional cascaron decorating and then we fill them with confetti, glitter, or small wrapped chocolate eggs (don‘t mix the glitter and candy). The final step is to seal the cascarones shut by sticking a wad of colored tissue paper in the opening or gluing a piece a tissue paper over the opening.
If you prefer, the Easter bunny can fill the casacones. In our family, the cascarones are not hidden, just placed on an egg plate or basket in the center of the dining room table. However, it could be fun to hide the cascarones and have the children search for them before breaking them. Once my children have hunted for baskets and plastic Easter eggs and have had their fill playing with their new toys and eating chocolate, we head outside and bring our basket of cascarones. We often invite neighbors and friends to participate because it is truly more fun with more people. I divide up the cascarones and remind everyone that the idea is to crack the egg over someone’s head, not on someone’s head. Everyone has a blast as we chase each other, trying to crack a cascaron over someone’s head, showering everyone with confetti and good luck.
In San Antonio, Texas, cascarones have enjoyed huge popularity. They are used during the pre Easter celebration of Fiesta San Antonio where schools and churches make and sell them as fundraisers. Cascarones are tossed from floats during the Fiesta San Antonio parade. Cascarones are so popular during the fiesta and Easter time that flats of them can be purchased inexpensively at stores or from street vendors. Cascarones are simple to make if you can't buy any, so start saving eggs early, because the more cascarones there are, the more fun everyone will have.